HL Deb 23 February 1982 vol 427 cc831-2

2.54 p.m.

Lord Segal

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will ascertain from the Post Office authorities if the recent increase in the difference between first-and second-class postage rates will mean a more efficient first-class service or a less efficient second-class service to the public.

Lord Lyell

My Lords, the Post Office's intention is to improve the quality of both first-class and second-class letter services to meet consistently its respective service targets. The widening of the differential, which has narrowed in recent years, is in line with the views of both the Post Office Users' National Council and the Monopolies and Mergers Commission in its Report on the Inner London Letter Post.

Lord Segal

My Lords, I should like to thank the noble Lord for that reply. Is he aware that there is still a great deal of room for improvement in postal deliveries, especially in the London W1 district? Does he realise that it costs as much to post a single letter today as it did to post 40 letters in the year 1920; and that we are heading now for a 100-fold increase by the turn of the century—and this in the country which introduced to the world the penny post?

Lord Lyell

My Lords, as to the noble Lord's opinion of the deliveries in one particular area, I shall certainly make inquiries to see whether this one particular area has special difficulties. But the Post Office is satisfied that the targets for meeting its delivery dates for both first-class and second-class posts are being maintained Possibly the noble Lord will be aware that his figures are out of date as from the 1st of this month.

Lord Derwent

My Lords, does the noble Lord realise that in my part of Yorkshire, second-class post has been improving very rapidly and first-class post has been getting worse very rapidly; and that usually the second-class now arrives before the first-class?

Lord Lyell

My Lords, I am sure that the Post Office will be fascinated to read the first part of my noble friend's supplementary question. Certainly, I shall bring his comments to the attention of the Post Office.

Viscount Massereene and Ferrard

My Lords, would my noble friend not agree that increasing charges for a state monopoly service is no guarantee for an increase in efficiency?

Lord Lyell

My Lords, there is no guarantee ever for an increase in efficiency; but we believe that the Post Office is making worth while steps in the direction of improved efficiency and improved productivity.

Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede

My Lords, I wonder whether the Government have given any consideration as to whether the terms "first-class" and "second-class" mail are appropriate in view of the exchanges that we have had?

Lord Lyell

My Lords, certainly I shall convey the comments of the noble Lord to the Post Office. No doubt they will be fascinated to read of the exchanges across the House.

Lord Nugent of Guildford

My Lords, in view of my noble friend's statement about the Post Office's interest in increased productivity, could he tell the House when the postal code is to be introduced for general application?

Lord Lyell

My Lords, I think that is a little wide of the original Question, but I shall endeavour to find out and to write to my noble friend as far as I can obtain detailed advice.

The Lord Bishop of Norwich

My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that there are also times when many of the public want to thank the Post Office and that, for example, I received the other day from Nigeria a letter addressed: "To the Bishop of Norwich"—with nothing else on the envelope?

Lord Lyell

My Lords, I am sure that the Post Office will be pleased that the Almighty also watches over Norwich.

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